There I sat, in the front passenger seat of the Best Buy delivery van. I had spent two years working here since my move to Charleston, and I was reaching my breaking point. My career back in Maryland was one working with the developmentally disabled. It was rough work, and didn’t pay that much, but it was good for my soul.
When I moved to South Carolina, the pay for working with the developmentally disabled was even less. So I took a job as a delivery driver for Best Buy, which already agreed to pay me $.30 more an hour to start, as opposed to the local nonprofit for the disabled, which was looking to pay me $2.70 less. At first, it was a blessing, since we financed the move on credit cards, and I wouldn’t have to feel as bad a financial strain.
My first jobs were in retail, where I became an assistant manager of a seasonal retail shop at just 19 years old. I had even worked for Best Buy previously at the age of 18. Then, I would go onto food & beverage and become an assistant manager at a restaurant.
Eventually, I found my way to working with the developmentally disabled. It was a nonprofit that had a goal of vocational work and community job placement for those with disabilities. My Aunt has down syndrome and was a client at this organization for pretty much my whole life. When I went to work there, I became a job coach for a lot of the same men and women that I have known my whole life through my Aunt’s birthday parties, Special Olympics, and other events.
In some ways, that kind of work felt like a second home.
But now, being back in retail felt a bit like I had sold my soul. I was tired for working for a company that, while I know is like any other retail company, was only about the money. I was placed in situations that were dangerous and taxing on my body and my family for that almighty dollar. I had reached a point where I could not care less if people got their new shiny shit or not.
I had to get back to helping people… and I had to get there soon.
That’s how I found my way to the technical college and an EMT class. Becoming an EMT felt like I was back to doing what I was meant to do: helping others. And, for a good while, it did feel like that. But then, the private services I worked for began to show some of their truer colors and I moved on to 911 in my further quest to help people, and it not be all about the money.
So you can imagine how I felt when I sat and watched the head of our organization talk to us at an in-service and state that, “We don’t take care of patients, they are our customers. And we were in the business of providing good customer service.”
While I get that, in the end, what he was saying was true, it was not what I got into EMS for and, it hurt to hear the exact words come down from the top.
From then on out, I remember feeling like, “Well… let’s go help another customer.” And one day we were running like crazy… helping customers galore! I looked at my partner and asked, “Do you think they’re running a TV commercial or print ad or something? I mean that’s what retail businesses do to bring in more customers, right?
And this strip was born from my attempt to find the humor in that situation.
It didn’t help.